For a while now I’ve been meaning to write about Just Kids, Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir about her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. But you know how you put things off until it seems like the moment has passed? Well, that moment has just come back around again. In case you were super busy last year, let me fill you in. Just Kids won the National f*ing Book Award and spent almost two months on The New York Times bestseller list. She was also this year’s speaker at The School of the Art Institute’s commencement. That’s a lot of action for someone who started her career in the early 70s and is often referred to as the Godmother of Punk.
Two interesting things happened this week. Spotify just posted a ten-hour playlist based on music mentioned in Just Kids. I thought I was the only one who made playlists from books, but it turns out that for many biblio/audio-philes this is a legitimate pastime. The publishing blog Galley Cat has been posting links to playlists for authors like Ann Patchett and Thomas Pynchon. You should definitely check them out. The ones I’ve seen are considerably shorter than ten hours.
The second tidbit is that Patti Smith has been contracted to co-write the screenplay for the film adaptation. I love, love, love artist bio-pics. Pollack. Basquiat. Henry and June. Caravaggio. The Moon and Sixpence. (Perhaps this is worthy of its own blog post.) I can’t wait to see the completed movie. I hope they cast really sexy people and not just some kids who are popular. Hmmm, I wonder who could play Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe at 20? Well, whoever ends up playing them, they’re most likely still in junior high so it’s probably not worth my time thinking about it too much.
Do check out the book:
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Ecco, Harper Collins, 2010
There’s some interesting Robert Mapplethorpe-related programming happening this weekend at The Block Museum in conjunction with their Polaroids: Mapplethorpe exhibition. On Friday night, they’re screening “Still Moving,” one of only two films directed by Mapplethorpe along with “Blacke, White + Gray,” a documentary about Sam Wagstaff, Mapplethorpe’s lover and a formative influence. On Saturday afternoon, the Block hosts a panel discussion featuring Cathie Opie and others on Mapplethorpe’s art and activism, moderated by Lane Relyea. Details on both programs below.
Date: March 6, 2009
Time: 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Title: Double Feature: ‘Still Moving’ & ‘Blacke, White + Grey’
Description: One of two films directed by Robert Mapplethorpe, Still Moving is in the words of its creators “a homage to William Blake” made in collaboration with Patti Smith. Courtesy of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Introduced by Block Museum of Art Senior Curator Deb Wood. Black, White + Gray is a documentary about Sam Wagstaff, who was a formative influence on Robert Mapplethorpe. A Yale graduate and naval ensign in WWII, Wagstaff went on to work as an advertising man during the heyday of Madison Avenue and then as an art curator and photography collector. Perhaps best known as Mapplethorpe’s lover and patron, Wagstaff gave Mapplethorpe his first large format camera. This documentary traces his remarkable life from its conventional beginnings through his fascinating career in the arts to his death in 1987 of AIDS. Introduced by Block Museum of Art Senior Curator Deb Wood.
Date: March 7, 2009
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Title: Robert Mapplethorpe: Artist and Activist
Description: A panel discussion exploring Robert Mapplethorpe’s influence on contemporary photography, activism, and issues of the body and sexuality. Participants include photographer Catherine Opie, “Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” exhibition curator Syliva Wolf, former Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation collections consultant Marisa Cardinale, and University of Maryland American studies and women’s studies professor Jeffrey McCune Jr. Moderated by Northwestern University art theory and practice professor Lane Relyea. A reception follows. Sponsored by Gender Studies Program, Northwestern University. This event is part of Three American Photographers: In-Depth, a series of educational programs at the Block Museum generously sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, Northwestern University.